Social Media and Children - Online Safety

At times, it can be difficult for parents to ensure that their child is happy and healthy.  Bumps and bruises are easy enough to tend to. However, with the rise of technology, raising a child in a safe environment now comes with even more hurdles.

Orlando Pediatrician

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More and more children and adolescents see computers, smart phones, and iPads as an essential part of life. Parents should be aware of what their child is doing on these devices – and more specifically, how their child is using social media on these devices.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – these are just a few of the most popular social networking sites – and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So, what should parents keep in mind when it comes to keeping their child safe on these platforms? Here are a few tips and guidelines for parents to follow:

Get to know the technology. Figure out how to set up a profile. Knowing exactly how a popular social networking site works gives you an advantage. It will help you determine which precautionary steps to take in order to keep your child away from danger. It will also allow you to be a part of your child’s online life.

Privacy settings are important.  Check your child’s privacy settings to restrict access and postings. Show your child how to use these settings, and explain what type of personal information should not be shared online.

Control is key.  Adolescent children on social networking sites are very susceptible to inappropriate advertising or websites by clicking on links. Monitor your child and establish clear guidelines, including how long they are allowed to be on certain sites.

Your computer room should be the family room. Keep the computer centrally located in the family room or the kitchen. It’s much easier to monitor your child’s online activity when the computer is located in a high-traffic zone, than if your child is using a computer in the privacy of their own room.

Limit smart phone usage. Much like the idea of keeping your computer centrally located, restrict your child’s use of smart phones to avoid distractions. Remind them not to check their social media profiles during family time.

Promote kind and honest behavior. Cyber-bullying is a harmful trend among young children on social networking sites. Children are not mature enough to handle the effects of disparaging comments online. Discourage your child from gossiping and posting anything that’s untrue or potentially harmful.

Power down and shut down. Insist on device-free rules and encourage communication outside of social networking sites. Set aside a time during the evening to power down all electronics. Use dinnertime to discuss not only what’s going on in your child’s life, but also their experiences on social media. Talk about your experiences on social media as well to create an open discussion.

Family First Pediatrics wants to ensure your child is happy, healthy and safe on and off the internet. To learn more about how to keep your child safe, visit Orlando Pediatrician online or call 407-335-4760 today.